Throughout the course of every working day, six to 10 people, each bearing between 15 and 1,500 checks, make a pilgrimage to the corporate treasury of EBSCO Information Services at its headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. EBSCO's treasury then consolidates the checks, makes the accounting entry and brings them to the bank for deposit. The necessity for the trip to treasury isn't that surprising when one considers that almost all of the company's collections are business-to-business, at least 70% are in the form of checks, and only one of EBSCO's multiple divisions uses a lockbox. It is also not that surprising that Christy Wright, EBSCO's director of finance and treasury, thinks it is time for the process to get a lot more efficient. She has turned to what she describes as an intuitively obvious solution: remote deposit.

In May 2005, EBSCO began working with Wachovia Corp. on a pilot involving headquarters and another nearby office. EBSCO placed scanners in each division in both locations to handle the check flow. "Now, we are no longer constrained by a deposit deadline and can scan checks 24/7," Wright says. "There is no need to hold checks overnight."

While it is too early in the pilot to measure results, Wright sees some big benefits. In addition to making funds available sooner, she expects to reduce daily processing time at headquarters from three hours to less than one. Eventually, EBSCO plans to implement remote deposit in 40 locations and ultimately consolidate from 20 domestic depository institutions to five. Wright also intends to eliminate the practice of making paper copies of all checks. Instead, EBSCO will retain images online or on CD-ROM.

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